Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates was heard on CNN Global Town Hall on Thursday (March 26) as saying six to ten weeks of lockdowns across the country is now necessary to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
"It is super painful to drive this very high degree of social isolation I call shutdown. The middle course really isn't there because it's hard to say, oh, go back to the theater for a week maybe or maybe not you'll be infected or infecting people," Gates said.
"Until we get the certainty we've hit these low numbers, you know, I doubt even if you told people that they should be buying new houses and cars and hanging out in restaurants, I doubt they're going to want to do that. People want to protect older people," he said.
"This is kind of the nightmare scenario," he said as to what is currently unfolding across the US. As of Saturday morning, there are 105,000 confirmed virus cases and 1,711 deaths. The epicenter of the breakout is New York, with more than 46,000 cases.
Gates said the response in the US was slow and chaotic. He said if the government would have "behaved a little bit like the countries that have done the best on this one" – then maybe the spread could have been suppressed.
He warned that the "peak" in cases and deaths is not close, indicating that further lockdowns will be needed to flatten the curve and slowdown infections to avoid hospital systems from being overwhelmed.
"This is kind of the nightmare scenario," says Bill Gates, who warned about the dangers of a pandemic in 2015. "[I] talked about how we needed to invest in new platforms so that we could quickly make diagnostics, make drugs and make vaccines to stop an epidemic." #CNNTownHall pic.twitter.com/xPW182yCSR— CNN (@CNN) March 27, 2020
"Basically, the whole country needs to do what was done in the part of China where they had these infections," he added.
And to Gate's point about where the US is in the virus cycle. We noted last week that the US is in the acceleration period.
Gates has been warning about a pandemic for years. Back in 2015, he told the audience at a TED Talk that his greatest fear wasn't World War III, but rather a fast-spreading virus that would consume the world.
Gates was a part of The Event 201 scenario in October (months before Covid-19) that modeled an outbreak of coronavirus across the world, killing 65 million people by month 18.
His foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been pouring millions of dollars into developing and distributing at-home testing kits for COVID-19.
So what do we expect after the nationwide lockdown? Well, Harvard researchers believe "intermittent lockdowns" and "widespread surveillance" of Americans could become the norm through 2022.